No. 9 Kansas to Close Out the Regular Season at No. 15 Oklahoma Saturday
Big 12 Champ Kansas to Close Out Regular Season at Oklahoma
No. 9/10 Kansas (24-6, 13-4) will close out the 2014-15 regular season at No. 15/15 Oklahoma (20-9, 11-6) on Saturday, March 7, at 3 p.m., on ESPN. Kansas is coming off a 76-69 overtime win against No. 20/20 West Virginia on March 3, a victory which earned the Jayhawks the 2015 Big 12 regular-season title outright. Oklahoma is looking to rebound from a 77-70 loss at No. 17/17 Iowa State on March 2.
The conference title for Kansas is its 11th-straight, 15th Big 12 and NCAA-leading 58th overall. The 11-consecutive championships, beginning in 2004-05 and all under head coach Bill Self, rank tied for second all-time on NCAA Division I list with Gonzaga’s 11-straight Big West regular-season championships from 2001-11 and only trail UCLA’s 13-consecutive titles as members of the then-Pac-10 Conference from 1967-79.
Kansas will be the No. 1 seed at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, March 11-14 at Sprint Center in Kansas City. On March 12 at 1:30 p.m., the Jayhawks will face the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 seed game to be played March 11. This is the seventh-consecutive year KU will enter the event as the No. 1 seed and the 12th time in the 19-year history of the Big 12.
No. 9/10 Kansas (24-6, 13-4) scores 71.9 points per game and has a +7.1 scoring margin. The Jayhawks average 38.0 boards per game and have a +3.9 rebound margin. KU is second in the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 38.5 percent and averages 13.7 assists, 6.6 steals and 5.0 blocked shots per game.
Reigning Big 12 Player of the Week, junior F Perry Ellis, KU’s leading scorer, will not play at Oklahoma (3/7) due to a sprained right knee suffered against West Virginia (3/3). A 2015 Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection, Ellis leads Kansas with a 14.2 scoring average and 7.0 rebound average. He is the only player in the Big 12 to rank sixth or higher in scoring (sixth) and rebounding (fourth). Expect sophomore F Landen Lucas to step into Ellis’ starting spot. Lucas has eight starts this season and averages 2.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. He played a career-high 26 minutes against West Virginia (3/3) and pulled down six rebounds. Sophomore G Frank Mason III is second in scoring at 12.4 points per game, which is 10th in the Big 12. He is coming off a 19-point performance against West Virginia (3/3). He is fourth in the league in assists at 4.2 and ninth in field goal percentage at 45.3, which is just behind Ellis who sits in fifth (47.1 percent). Mason leads KU with 43 steals and his 34 three-pointers made this season are third-most on the team. Sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr., has made a team-high 45 three-pointers and his 1.5 made per game are tied for 12th in the Big 12. Selden scores 9.4 points per game and is second on the team with 89 assists. Rounding out the KU starters are freshman G Kelly Oubre, Jr., and junior F Jamari Traylor. After his 12 points against West Virginia (3/3), Oubre averages 10.1 points in Big 12 play and 8.9 in all games. He is second on the team with 33 steals, averages 4.9 rebounds and has made 30 three-pointers this season. Traylor has started 16 games this season and scores 4.7 points per contest afer his season-high 14 against West Virginia (3/3). He pulled down nine boards against the Mountaineers and averages 3.8 rebounds per game. His 31 blocked shots are second on the team and his 1.1 blocks per game are 11th in the Big 12. Traylor replaced freshman F Cliff Alexander (7.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.3 blocked shots per game, six starts) in the starting lineup versus the against Texas (2/28). Alexander has sat out the last two KU contests as a precautionary measure after the NCAA alerted KU about issues that could affect Alexander’s eligibility.
Sophomore G Brannen Greene averages 6.1 points and is second on the team with 36 three-pointers made. He makes a team best 42.9 percent from beyond the arc in 2014-15. Freshman G Devonte’ Graham scored 10 points against West Virginia (3/3) which included two free throws with :11 remaining to send the game into overtime. He is scoring 5.2 points per game and is third on the team with 43 assists. Redshirt junior F Hunter Mickelson (2.3 ppg) is coming off a season-high-tying eight points and two blocked shots against West Virginia (3/3).
Located in Norman, Oklahoma, with an enrollment of 30,753, Oklahoma is looking to rebound from a 77-70 loss at No. 17/17 Iowa State March 3. The Sooners are coached by Lon Kruger who is 78-47 in his fourth season at OU and 557-351 in his 29th season overall. OU is 13-1 at Lloyd Noble Center this season. Oklahoma averages 72.3 points per game and has a +9.6 scoring margin. The Sooners average 37.6 rebounds per game with a +0.5 rebound margin. They are second in the Big 12 in defensive rebounds (27.0) and three-point percentage defense (31.3). OU makes 72.5 percent of its free throws, averages 6.8 three-point field goals made per contest and shoots 34.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Junior G Buddy Hield leads the Big 12 in scoring at 17.3 points per game. He also leads the conference with 2.7 three-point field goals made per game. Hield is second on the team with 42 steals and averages 5.4 rebounds per game. Hield makes 80.4 percent from the free throw line. Junior G Isaiah Cousins scores 12.0 points and pulls down 4.9 rebounds per game. He leads the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 44.7 percent and is sixth in the league with 1.8 threes made per game. Cousins has 37 steals this season. Senior F TaShawn Thomas leads the Sooners with 42 blocked shots and he scores 11.0 points per game. He pulls down 6.2 rebounds per game, which is seventh in the conference, and his 51.8 field goal percentage is second in the Big 12 behind junior F Ryan Spangler’s 59.0 percent. Spangler also leads OU with 7.7 rebounds per game, which is third in the Big 12 and averages 10.3 points per game. Sophomore G Jordan Woodard rounds out the OU starters. He leads OU with 4.1 assists per game, which is fifth in the league, and scores 9.1 points per game. Woodard has a team-best 44 steals. Sophomore G Frank Booker (5.2 ppg), junior G Dinjiyl Walker (3.8 ppg), freshman F Khadeem Lattin (2.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg) and senior F D.J. Bennett (1.9 ppg) round out the OU regulars.
The Kansas-Oklahoma Series
The series between Kansas and Oklahoma dates back to 1920 when both schools were members of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association and Kansas leads, 142-65. Since 2006, the Jayhawks have won 13 of the last 14 meetings against the Sooners with OU ending a KU 10-game series winning streak with a 72-66 victory in Norman, Oklahoma (2/9/13). Kansas is 50-41 against Oklahoma in games played in Norman. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, Kansas is 21-5 against Oklahoma; 19-3 in regular-season play and 2-2 in the Big 12 Championship. Kansas head coach Bill Self is 14-4 all-time against Oklahoma, including 14-2 while at KU. Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger is 6-16 versus Kansas, 1-6 while at OU.
Earlier this season, on Jan. 19, then-No. 11/14 Kansas defeated then-No. 19/20 Oklahoma, 85-78, on ESPN Big Monday in Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas tied a school record by making nine three-pointers in the first half and led 51-32 at the intermission. The Sooners made a run, outscoring KU 46-34 in the second period. KU freshman F Cliff Alexander posted a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Freshman G Kelly Oubre, Jr., led the Jayhawks with 19 points, while junior F Perry Ellis scored 16. OU’s Buddy Hield led all scorers with 26 for the game.
- The NCAA is listing statistics and Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) on a regular basis. Through games as of March 4, Kansas is No. 2 nationally in the RPI behind Kentucky and No. 1 nationally in the toughest schedule.
- Kansas’ bench has outscored its opponent’s bench in 11 of the last 15 games, including 35-21 against West Virginia (3/3). Kansas’ bench has outscored its opponent’s bench 337-202 for a 22.5 to 13.5 average in the last 15 games.
- Kansas is second the Big 12 in field goal percentage (44.3) and three-point field goal percentage (38.5). KU also ranks in the upper half of the league in scoring offense (fourth at 71.9), free throw percentage (fourth at 71.9), field goal percentage defense (fifth at 39.6), three-point field goal percentage defense (third at 32.0), assists (fourth at 13.7), rebounding (third at 38.0), rebound margin (third at +3.9), blocked shots (fifth at 5.0), steals (fifth at 6.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (fifth at 1.1).
- Kansas has outrebounded 19 of 30 opponents this season, compiling a 17-2 record in those contests. Seven of those games have been by double figures, including two in Big 12 play.
- Kansas’ 13 steals against West Virginia (3/3) were a season high and marked only the second time this season the Jayhawks have posted double-figure steals. KU had 12 steals against Texas Tech on Jan. 10. KU has averaged 9.0 steals in its last three games and 6.6 for the season.
- Junior F Perry Ellis has scored 23 or more points in three of his last four games. Despite only scoring four points before leaving the West Virginia (3/3) game with a sprained knee, Ellis has averaged 19.8 points in his last four games.
- Ellis has shot 50 percent or better in eight Big 12 games this season with four contests at 62.5 percent or better. His seven double-doubles in 2014-15 are tied for second in the Big 12 and he is the only player in the conference to rank in the top six in scoring (sixth at 14.2 ppg) and rebounding (fourth at 7.0 rpg).
- Sophomore G Frank Mason III led Kansas for the sixth time this season with a game-high 19 points against West Virginia (3/3). He has three steals in two of his last three games and seven in that span. Mason has at least one steal in each of his last 10 games with 18 in that span.
- Freshman G Kelly Oubre, Jr., recorded his 13th game of the season with 10 or more points by scoring 12 points against West Virginia (3/3). He has scored in double figures in each of the last three games and five of the last six. Oubre pulled down nine boards against Texas (2/28) to mark the 10th time this season he has pulled down seven or more rebounds. Oubre, who averages 4.9 rebounds per game for the season, has averaged 6.0 rebounds in his last five games.
- Junior F Jamari Traylor scored all 14 of his points against West Virginia (3/3) in the second half and overtime. Traylor’s 14 points against the Mountaineers were a season high and his nine rebounds for the game were a personal league best in 2015.
- Sophomore G Wayne Selden Jr., has scored in double figures in five of his last 10 games. His five straight 10-plus point games prior to West Virginia (2/16) marked his longest consecutive double-figure scoring mark as a Jayhawk. Selden’s 13 games of multiple threes are best on the KU team this season.
- Freshman G Devonte’ Graham scored 10 points against West Virginia (3/3) to mark his fifth game in double figures this season. He had a nearly perfect game against TCU (2/21) where he scored a career-high 20 points on 7-for-7 shooting, including 2-for-2 from three-point range. Graham was 4-for-6 from the free throw line with three assists against the Horned Frogs. Graham has three or more assists in nine games this season, with eight against Big 12 teams.
- Sophomore F Landen Lucas logged a career-high 26 minutes against West Virginia (3/3) which surpassed his previous high of 25 versus Texas (2/28) the game before. Lucas averages 2.1 points and 2.5 rebounds for the season and has averaged 5.0 boards per game in his last two contests.
- Redshirt junior F Hunter Mickelson’s 13 minutes against West Virginia (3/3) were his most in Big 12 play this season. He tied his season high with eight points and two blocked shots against the Mountaineers and set season best with three steals. He was perfect shooting for the contest going 2-for-2 from the field and 4-for-4 from the line.
In the Polls
In the March 2 national polls, Kansas is No. 9 in the Associated Press and No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches’ polls. This season, the Jayhawks have been ranked in the top 10 in the AP and coaches’ poll 12 and 11 weeks, respectively. The Jayhawks have been ranked in each of the last 121 Associated Press polls dating back to the 2008-09 season, including in the top five 50 times. In the coaches’ poll, the Jayhawks have been ranked in each of the past 127 polls and in the top five on 54 occasions.
Versus Ranked Teams
With its 76-69 overtime win versus No. 20 West Virginia on March 3, Kansas is 62-32 against Associated Press (AP) ranked teams, including 9-3 in 2014-15. In each of the last five seasons, the Jayhawks have a winning record versus AP ranked foes, including a 7-3 mark in 2013-14. Since the 2009-10 season, KU is 40-15 against AP ranked teams.
Conference Title Run No Cakewalk
Kansas currently ranks No. 2 in the NCAA Rating Percentage Index and No. 1 in strength of schedule. Following the 2013-14 season, for the second time in the Bill Self era, Kansas ranked first in strength of schedule, according to data from RPIratings.com. KU was also tops in Self’s second season, 2004-05. Prior to 2014-15, in Self’s 11 seasons KU has ranked fifth or higher in the final RPI, which can play a role in deciding NCAA Tournament teams, seven times, including each of the last five years. Kansas was fourth in the final RPI in 2013-14, its highest since 2010-11 when it ranked first.
Kansas’ RPI Rankings Under Bill Self (according to RPIratings.com; SOS = Strength of Schedule)
Season Final RPI Final SOS Big 12 RPI
2003-04 12 6 3
2004-05 3 1 2
2005-06 32 60 3
2006-07 10 44 5
2007-08 4 12 5
2008-09 11 13 3
2009-10 1 6 1
2010-11 1 10 3
2011-12 5 8 3
2012-13 5 17 5
2013-14 4 1 2
*2014-15 2 1 1
From the Line
Kansas shot 79 percent from the free throw line making a season-high 34-of-43 charity shots against West Virginia (3/3). In the last seven games Kansas has made 139-of-179 (77.7 percent) from the line. In the last two games alone Kansas has made 80 percent of its free attempts (60-of-75) making 26-of-32 against Texas and 34-of-43 to top West Virginia.
Kansas enters the Oklahoma game making 71.9 percent of its free throws in 2014-15. In the Bill Self era, the Jayhawks have made 70 percent or better from the charity stripe each of the last two seasons and five times in the previous 11 years. In 2012-13, KU set the single-season free throw percentage record at 73.7 percent.
Kansas will next play in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, March 11-14, at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. As the No. 1 seed, Kansas will play its first game on Thursday, March 12 at 1:30 p.m., on ESPN2. KU will play the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 contest to be played March 11. Kansas has won 13 conference postseason tournament titles, including nine in the Big 12.
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